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Cronulla have moved another step closer to finalising their coach for 2019 after meeting with the two leading candidates for the job this week.

Interim coach John Morris and Penrith Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo met Sharks officials on the Australia Day Public Holiday on Monday about filling the role vacated by Shane Flanagan's resignation earlier this month.

Morris, who has the support of the players, remains the frontrunner for the job however Cronulla officials have a big opinion of Ciraldo.

It is understood Ciraldo and Morris are the club's top priorities, despite being linked to former Manly coach Trent Barrett and St Helens coach Justin Holbrook.

Morris, who has taken the NRL squad on a three-day pre-season camp to Kiama this week, has made an immediate impression since taking over the top job following the NRL's breach notice issued to Flanagan before Christmas.

Cameron Ciraldo.
Cameron Ciraldo. ©NRL Photos

Ciraldo is a local junior and is considered one of the best young coaches in the game, however Panthers officials remain confident the man who replaced Anthony Griffin in the final six weeks of last season will remain at Penrith despite the lure of returning to a head coaching role.

The Sharks kick off their trials against Manly at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, February 23.

It is expected a coach will be named well in advance of their first trial to ensure minimal disruption to the team in their Telstra Premiership campaign.

The Sharks also play a pre-season fixture against the Knights in Maitland on Saturday, March 2 before opening their season against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium two weeks later.

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